Traditionally high homeownership rate, low median income the basis of state’s stats

MAP MASTERThe basis for the property rich/cash poor description of many New Mexicans is twofold: the state’s traditionally high homeownership rate and low median income.

Going back decades, New Mexico’s homeownership rate consistently has run at least 3 percentage points higher than the national average.

The comparatively high rate has been attributed to the tradition of families passing down property from generation to generation, particularly in rural areas of the state.

In 1910, for example, a largely rural New Mexico’s homeownership rate was the highest in the country at 70.6 percent, an almost other-worldly rate compared with a national average of just 45.9 percent at the time.

New Mexico’s run of comparatively strong homeownership rates has ended. In the second quarter of this year, the state’s rate fell below the national average – 63.9 percent compared with the national average of 64.7 percent – for the first time in more than 100 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Homeownership rates bounce around from quarter to quarter, so it remains to be seen whether New Mexico’s drop below the national average was a statistical blip or part of a deeper erosion in homeownership.

As for median income, New Mexico routinely has ranked in the bottom 10 among states, even in the best of economic times.

The state’s median income used this year in Bankruptcy Court is $39,484 a year for a single wage-earner, fourth lowest in the country, and $51,288 for a family of three, second lowest in the country behind Mississippi.

Median means half of all single wage-earners in the state make more than $39,484 a year and half make less.

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